30 Apr Buying Cashmere Clothes is Not So Easy
Similar to diamonds and gold, cashmere comes in many different qualities and can cause a certain amount of confusion to any purchaser. Unlike shopping for a normal woolen jumper where all you are likely to be concerned about is the style, fit, colour and price, with cashmere the quality of the yarn is paramount, and cashmere yarns vary considerably as do their prices. The quality of the cashmere yarn is determined by the length and fineness (known as “count”) of the fibres in the yarn. Garments made from yarn with long thin fibres pill less and maintain their shape better than ones made from cheaper lower grade cashmere.
Yarn described as 2/26 or more properly written 2/26NM refers firstly to the ply and secondly to the fineness (count) of the yarn. The 26NM means that 26 metres of single ply yarn weighs 1 gram. Following on 36NM indicates that the yarn has been spun longer than the 26NM to make 36 metres weigh 1 gram, making a much finer quality yarn. The higher the count the more expensive the yarn will be. The industry standard yarn that most manufacturers use is 2/26NM.
By industry standards cashmere fibre runs from about 14 microns to 19 microns and must be at least 1-1/4″ long. The lower the number, the thinner the fibre means the better the quality. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, so each fibre is very, very fine. By comparison a human hair can range from 17 to 181 microns in diameter.
So armed with this basic knowledge how does the consumer know what quality of yarn the garment they are looking at buying is actually made from when all it says is 100% cashmere? Unless the garment states what the count and/or grade the cashmere yarn is at the point of sale the consumer is left to judge by look, feel and price alone. If you are buying on the internet make sure you look to see if they state any actual facts about their yarns – not just “great quality”! If not you can always ask them. If you are buying in the high street from an independent shop the owner should hopefully know something about the quality, but chain store staff may not be knowledgeable so you’re relying on the point of sale information like swing tags and labels which may or may not be helpful.
Cashmere can be a small or large investment of your money, dependent upon the quality and amount of cashmere you own. The best return on your investment is to love the way it looks and feels when you wear it, as most cashmere feels wonderful, but remember that the best cashmere looks and feels simply sublime!